At the moment my boys - who are eight and six - are very good at things like cleaning up their bedrooms and playroom, so although I am not a total authority on the subject I do have some tips to share.
Keep It Super Simple
I come across posts about teaching your kids to clean occasionally which advocate setting up special cleaning kits, creating games or even making a playlist for kids to tidy up to. If this sort of thing floats your boat, they are all great suggestions. If, however, you are busy I don't think there is any harm in keeping it super simple. Kids are pretty eager to please when they are young, and generally don't mind helping because it makes them feel grown up. I've personally never found the need to jazz up "tidy up time" which makes life a lot easier.
I don't want to nag my children to do their chores, so I make sure that they are very clear on what their responsibilities are around the home. This means that they do things automatically or a gentle reminder is enough.
When the kids were really young I found that chore charts were helpful for enforcing expectations. To be honest, on busy weeks we would forget to stick on the stars. But just having a list of jobs hung up on the wall still motivated the kids to do their jobs because the visual reminder helped to reinforce what they should be doing.
If you want to give chore charts a go, I have included two printable chore chart below for you to download.
Both of the chore charts are editable in Adobe Reader - click on the blue boxes to add your text (the blue boxes do not show on the print outs). You can add in your child's name and their chores. Alternatively, you can just print the file straight out and fill it in by hand.
To make the chore chart re-usable, laminate it and use it with dry erase pens.
Give Them Age Appropriate Jobs To Do
Children are all different, so what is appropriate for one child may not suit another. But if you want to introduce a few chores which will help to teach responsibility, here are some suggestions for age appropriate jobs.
Age 1 - 2 years
* Help put their toys away.
Age 2 - 3 years
* Help with simple laundry tasks, like sorting socks.
* Help put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
Age 3 - 4 years
* Learn to make a bed.
* Help to water plants.
* Help clean up accidental messes (for example, if they spill their drink).
Age 4 - 5 years
* Set the table.
* Put dirty plates in sink/dishwasher.
* Help to dust.
* Feed pets.
Age 5 -6 years
* Be able to do all of the above without supervision and minimal prompting.
* Help to put away own laundry.
* Assist younger siblings.
Age 6 - 7 years
* Help with jobs in yard (such as pulling weeds).
* Learn to make simple snacks.
Age 7 - 8 years
* Start learning basic meal preparation skills.
* Learn to wash dishes or use dishwasher.
* Be able to put on a load of laundry.
Age 8 - 10 years
* Start helping parents with more grown up jobs (DIY, car maintenance, etc).
Lead By Example
This tip is very important for little kids. Things like sweeping the floor might seem super simple until you watch a small child pushing the dirt around in circles, without actually achieving anything. Don't be overly pedantic about their technique, but do show them the correct way to do something when they are starting out with a new chore. Which leads us onto...
Lower Your Standards
My last tip is to lower your standards, which can be tough if you are perfectionist. I don't think parents necessarily need to trick their kids into thinking chores are super fun, but you don't want them to think of chores as a negative thing either. So it is probably best not to criticize their efforts or re-do the job they have just done. The important thing is that they are learning, and they will get better in the end!
How do you encourage your kids to help around the home?